By Matt Green – Upper Salmon Project Manager
This spring we put the finishing touches on the Mill Creek Reconnect Project in the upper Pahsimeroi Valley. As often happens within the TU community, a group of hard working volunteers planted over 1,000 potted plants along the newly constructed Mill Creek channel.
Mill Creek is now connected to Big Creek for the first time in a century. The long-term goal is to get a long enough connection of Big Creek with the Pahsimeroi River to allow wild steelhead to make their way up to pristine habitat at its headwaters. Seasonal reconnection will also decrease sediment loads that are washed down into the Pahsimeroi and onto fish and redds. Mill Creek is the beginning of a series of proposed projects aimed at accomplishing this reconnection.
We are also busy getting ready for Phase I of a two year restoration project on the Yankee Fork Salmon River. This will include rerouting the mainstem Yankee Fork back to its historic confluence location with the West Fork Yankee Fork. Dredge mining in the mid 1900s confined this stretch of river into a canal-like chute with little habitat for salmon and steelhead. By relocating the channel, it will allow for flows to access the floodplain, add sinuousty, and create some diverse, complex habitat for both spawning and rearing anadromous fish.